Charles Howard - better known as Lord Howard of Effingham - was an Elizabethan courtier and admiral, best known for his role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada and his assault on the Spanish city of Cadiz.
Charles Howard was born in 1536. Through his father, William Howard, first Baron Howard of Effingham, he was related to Elizabeth I. In 1559, Howard was made ambassador to France and held a number of other official positions, including commissioner at the trial of Mary Queen of Scots. In addition to his interests at court and in government, Howard was also a patron of the theatre. In 1576, a company of actors known as Lord Howard's Men was formed (they later became known as the Admiral's Men), and they are linked to the first performances of Shakespeare's 'Richard III'.
In 1573, Howard succeeded to his father's title. In 1585, he was appointed lord admiral of England, despite having only limited experience at sea. Thus he was in command of the Royal Navy when the Spanish Armada sailed to attack Britain in 1588. Although he was not as talented a seaman as his second in command, Sir Francis Drake, his prudent leadership, including deferring to Drake, contributed to the eventual defeat of the Armada. In 1596, Howard and the Earl of Essex were sent to forestall another Spanish attack, this time with an assault on the port of Cadiz. The attempt was successful, and Howard was created Earl of Nottingham in recognition of his services. In 1599, at a time of yet further anxiety over Spain, Howard was given the highly exceptional office of lord lieutenant general of England.
In 1601, the earl of Essex led an uprising against the government, which Howard helped to suppress, and which led to the rebel earl's execution. Howard remained on good terms with the queen, and when she lay dying it is supposedly to him that she named James VI of Scotland as her successor.
During James's reign Howard again served in a number of official positions. He died on 14 December 1624.
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